As good as today’s gaming laptops may be, it’s no secret that a good desktop computer is still hard to beat when it comes to serious gaming. It’s simply easier and more cost-effective to fit all that bulky hardware into a PC tower (you’re definitely paying a tax for the scaled-down components used in laptops), and even a cheap gaming desktop PC can go toe-to-toe with current-gen consoles when it comes to playing the latest games at 1080p/60fps with good to high graphics settings.
There’s a huge spectrum of hardware specifications to think about when shopping for any sort of computer, and there are even more details to consider (such as what GPU you want and your monitor setup) before dumping some big money on a gaming PC. The best place to start is with a good bargain, and if that’s what you’re after, you’ve found the right place: Below are a half dozen of the best cheap gaming PC deals available now, and to give you another leg-up, we’ve also written a quick guide to help you make an educated buying decision. After you’ve got that new desktop, be sure to complete your battle station with one of these monitor deals.
Today’s Best Cheap Gaming PC Deals
- — $430, was $500
- — $650, was $800
- — $750, was $800
- — $830, was $930
- — $900, was $1,000
- — $1,000, was $1,200
Years ago, you’d be hard-pressed to find any sort of gaming-capable rig for less than $500 owing to the cost of discrete graphics cards. AMD crafted a unique solution to that problem in its APUs, or accelerated processing units, which are basically CPUs that pack built-in graphics processing capabilities. The Lenovo IdeaCentre 510A desktop PC features an AMD Ryzen 3 2200G APU that features Radeon Vega 3 graphics, which will allow for some light gaming. Don’t expect to run the latest AAA games at high settings, but it’ll get the job done for those with modest needs.
Along with the AMD APU, this Lenovo IdeaCentre 510A desktop PC comes with a boosted 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a 128GB solid-state drive — and like most of our other picks, it comes with a wired mouse and keyboard. This cheap gaming PC can be yours for just $430, saving you $70.
HP is best known for its business laptops and desktops, but it makes some surprisingly solid (and budget-friendly) gaming PCs as well. This HP pavilion runs on an AMD Ryzen 5 3500 CPU paired with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card which, while not mind-blowing specs, are very impressive for a cheap gaming PC at this price point. For memory, you’ve got 8GB of RAM (which can be upgraded if need be) along with a 1TB HDD for storage.
The HP Pavilion desktop tower rings in at just $650 right now after a nice $150 discount, and it might be about the best pre-built gaming PC with a dedicated GPU that you’ll find for around this price at the moment. And, like most of our other picks, it also comes bundled with a mouse and keyboard.
The AMD Radeon RX 500 series graphics cards are still one of the best entry points for getting into 1080p gaming at 60 frames per second for modern games, and the ABS Rogue SE gaming PC is a cost-affordable (not to mention very attractive) way to do it. This tower features a Radeon RX 580, which is a solid 1080p-capable GPU that works with a Ryzen 5 2600 six-core CPU and 8GB of DDR4 RAM to deliver great overall performance for work or play.
For storage, you’ve got a nice-sized 512GB SSD (larger than the ones you usually find on cheap gaming PCs), and like most of our other picks, the ABS Rogue SE includes a mouse and keyboard. All you need is a display and an audio source and you’re ready to game. You can grab this high-value gaming PC bundle for $750 and save $50.
Like HP, Dell is another brand known for its no-nonsense workhorse computers, but it puts out solid gaming PCs that are definitely worth your attention. The Dell G series features some particularly nice gaming laptops and desktops for budget-conscious shoppers, and this Dell G5 PC tower offers a lot of bang for the buck: It’s got a 9th-gen Intel Core i5-9400 six-core CPU, 8GB DDR4 RAM, and most impressively, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU which is easily the best mid-range graphics card on the market right now (replacing the last-gen 1060 Ti).
It doesn’t come with an SSD, but you’ve got a nice, high-speed 7,200rpm 1TB hard drive which is faster and smoother than the HDDs of yesterday. Not shown above are the included mouse and keyboard, although you might consider upgrading to a mechanical keyboard and gaming mouse to get the best experience out of a gaming PC at this price point. A $100 discount knocks the Dell G5 down to $830 for a limited time.
HP builds many well-priced gaming computers, and the Omen Obelisk doesn’t disappoint. It packs an Intel Core i5-8400 CPU and an Nvidia GTX 1660 Super GPU with 6GB VRAM, which is easily one of the best processor/graphics card combos for 1080p gaming at 60fps in 2020 (and is arguably the best mid-range GPU on the market right now). It comes with a 1TB HDD for plenty of storage as well.
The HP Omen Obelisk looks striking on any desk without appearing too garish, and it’s customizable and upgradeable like most desktop towers. At $900 after a $100 discount, this is a very solid enthusiast gaming PC with some nice future-proofing (which is to say that, aside from maybe increasing the 8GB RAM, you won’t have to upgrade this thing for quite a few years).
Tip-toeing up to the $1,000 budget limit brings us to the Nvidia RTX 20-series graphics cards, which is definitely what you should be looking for if you’re paying more than $900. This gaming desktop from ABS checks all the boxes: An AMD Ryzen 5 3600G CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a beefy Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU are capable of handling 1080p gaming at 120fps or 1440p at 60fps, so if 1080p/60fps isn’t enough for you in 2020, this PC is a worthy upgrade over our other picks.
A 512GB SSD gives you plenty of high-speed storage as well. For thermals, you’ve got three LED-lit front intake fans and a rear exhaust fan which, along with the CPU fan, should keep things running cool. The ABS Mage E desktop gaming PC rings in at $1,000 (including a wired mouse and keyboard) after a $200 discount, fitting neatly into our budget.
How To Choose A Cheap Gaming PC
As with any big purchase, make sure you know exactly what you want when buying a gaming computer. It’s not a bad idea to write down a checklist. It’s also important when looking specifically at cheap gaming PCs (i.e. those coming in at less than $1,000) to have realistic expectations — you’re not going to get multi-monitor 4K gaming at this price point. That said, it’s easy to achieve great results with 1080p/60fps gaming at high settings even for modern releases, and even for 1440p gaming when you move towards the upper end of our $1,000 price limit.
If playing at 1080p/60fps on one or two monitors is good enough, then you won’t have a hard time finding a good cheap gaming PC to meet your needs. If your demands are a bit higher, though, then expect to have to shop around a bit for the right deal. Also, be sure to bring yourself up to speed with the latest hardware — don’t just jump on the first attractive deal you find that meets your budget only to end up with a last-gen GPU that will feel long in the tooth in 2020. Know what you want and what to expect from a cheap gaming PC that’s within your set budget and you won’t be disappointed, and for a more detailed breakdown of the sort of hardware you should look for, read on.
What Makes A Good Cheap Gaming PC?
The short answer is that a good price-to-performance ratio is what makes a cheap gaming PC “good,” and the good news here is that desktop computers already provide this sort of value by their very nature — it’s simply easier to fit all that beefy hardware into a desktop tower, whereas the scaled-down components of laptops (not to mention their built-in displays and keyboards) make those mobile PCs more expensive. That said, it’s still important to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck if you’re buying a pre-assembled desktop computer, as some are built better than others.
The three main hardware components that drive performance are the CPU, GPU (or graphics card), and RAM. Our recommendations: For your CPU, stick with a 9th- or 10th-gen Intel Core or one of the newer AMD Ryzen (sometimes called “Zen”) processors. For RAM, a minimum of 8GB is recommended for all but the cheapest gaming PCs, an 16GB is even better — but remember you can almost always add more RAM and this is one of the easiest (if not the easiest) components to. GPUs are arguably the heart of a gaming computer; modern models include AMD’s Radeon 500 and 5000 series as well as Nvidia’s GTX 16- and RTX 20- series GPUs.
Nvidia replaced their older 10-series GPUs last year, but there are still cheap gaming PCs floating around with these cards. Our advice: Avoid them unless your needs are modest and you can snag one for a seriously good deal. Even the entry-level 16-series Nvidia cards are faster and are ideal for 1080p gaming. For 1440p gaming, you’ll be better served with one of the 20-series cards such as the GTX 2060 or 2070. If anything bottlenecks your gaming PC’s performance, it will be an underpowered GPU, so this is the one component you don’t want to skimp on. One final thing to consider is upgradeability: If you plan to keep your chosen PC tower for a while, look at what sort of case and motherboard it’s using to determine if you can easily add and swap parts in the future. Some desktop PCs from brands like HP use proprietary components which will limit what parts you can add and can be costly to replace.
Are Cheap Gaming PCs Good For Work?
It’s safe to say that running modern video games at good settings is generally a much more demanding job than most work tasks you’d normally need a computer for, so any gaming computer — even a cheap gaming PC — will be as well-suited for work and study as it is for play. The faster processors and high-speed RAM will make short work of simple tasks like web browsing, word processing, making spreadsheets, and so on, and the discrete GPU is also nice to have for graphical tasks such as video rendering. Another advantage of a desktop PC, particularly one with a graphics card, is the option to create a multi-monitor setup that can increase your productivity (and even a single monitor will still give you more screen real estate than a laptop display).
Looking for more great stuff? Find tech discounts and much more on our curated deals page.
Digital Trends may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers.
Published at Sat, 16 May 2020 00:21:31 +0000